So you want an electric motorcycle, but you want something that looks hip. Up until now, those have basically been mutually exclusive goals, with few exceptions. If you wanted a somewhat practical electric scrambler, you were out of luck. Now, Grid Cycles is changing that, with the KTM Electric Motorcycle Scrambler (at least, that’s what we think it’s called).
Grid Cycles is actually a spin-off of Australian custom shop Purpose Built Moto. The company’s website says this custom e-scrambler is a step towards building battery bikes that still have vintage aesthetics: “This will be our vehicle to bring bespoke electric motorcycles to the people. Bridging the gap between the cutting edge technology we need, and the old world charm we all love.”
Grid Cycles’ first scrambler build is based on a KTM Freeride E-XC, an electric dirt bike. While the crew at Grid Cycles liked the bike’s all-electric capability, they felt the looks left much to be desired:
I was excited to have a ride of this thing, what I wasn’t excited about was the way it looked. Like most E-motorcycles, it had a sharp appearance void of any shred of nostalgia. I think that’s a holding point for a lot of riders to convert to Electric Bikes. Across the board they’re predominantly sports naked bikes. Pointy fairings, high tails, plastic, plastic, plastic.
A subjective complaint, yes, but there’s something to it. Even aesthetic geniuses like Walt Siegl are building electro-customs that look like Transformers, not a classic mid-century motorcycle. There’s a reason for that: Many designers are happy to escape the design cues that are dictated by internal combustion engines. However, some people still like the lines of a traditional motorcycle, and this machine from Grid Cycles is aimed at that sort of customer.
As such, the changes on this bike are mostly skin-deep, with no modification to the electric motor or battery pack. Instead, builder Tom Gilroy cleverly fitted a cut-out replica gas tank from a Yamaha XT500 over the battery pack, hiding all that assembly.
With the bottom chopped out, a few mods to smooth it out and locate a button latch then a hinge section fabricated for the rear the tank took time, but went on relatively painlessly. The mechanism under it is assisted with a gas strut, once you pop the button, and lift the tank hinges up nicely to reveal the powerplant, and Auxiliary electronics below.
When the tank is popped up, riders can access the charging port.
Grid Cycles also left the running gear unchanged; the team put a new subframe on the bike, to accomodate the faux gas tank and the scrambler-style flat seat, but generally left the hard parts untouched. Throw in some groovy paint and a surfboard rack (… sigh…), and you’ve got a cool-looking custom that runs on zaps, not braaaps. It’s not very fast, but it’s fun, the builders say.
The KTM is bucket loads of fun, but is speed limited to 80KM/h and with the latest battery pack will get you up to 2.5 hrs of ride time. The bike is super light, handles well and while the top speed isn’t anything wild, it makes getting there a lot of fun.
For a closer look at the bike, check out the Purpose Built Moto website.